Recovery after the facelift surgery - How to take care of your skin after the facelift

Added by on 25.03.2019

girl is touching her faceA facelift also referred to as rhytidectomy, is a plastic surgery addressing face and neck areas. It combats the wrinkles, jowls, sagging skin and other signs of aging. As a result, a patient gains a refreshed, youthful, natural look. In order to benefit from the facelift procedure to the greatest extent, patients need to be aware of the importance of the recovery time and apply any instructions given by the surgeon. However the final effects of the surgery appear within a few months, the recovery itself is shorter. Yet, it is not possible to estimate the time needed to fully recover as it depends on such factors as a health condition, age and the type of surgery. The further sections of this article will emphasize the significance of the recovery after facelift and its influence on the surgery effects.

Stages of Recovery From Facelift Surgery – The Timeline

The recovery time after facelift may be parted into several stages. Even though the duration of each stage can vary depending on the patient, the authors dare set the recovery time in order below.

1-3 days after the surgery

The facelift procedure is performed under general anesthesia and no pain is felt during the surgery. A patient wakes up several hours later. The head is covered with a bandage, and in case of excessive bleeding, drains are applied. During the 48 hours after the surgery, patients experience pain and it is necessary to apply medications. The face and neck are the most swollen and bruised, but the ice compressions bring deep relief. Generally, patients are able to move and walk from the very beginning, however, the assistance for 2-3 days after the surgery is strongly advised. Usually, 3 days after the surgery, there is a control visit, during which the surgeon removes the drains and examines the health condition of a patient.

1 week after the surgery

Some patients are asked to wear a compression garment for 14 days after facelift surgery. Nonetheless, it is not always essential as is determined by the surgical technique. The pain and swelling are existent, but their intensity is decreasing day by day. Usually, patients significantly decrease or stop medications dosages. Additionally, a week following the procedure, the surgeon removes the stitches.

2 weeks after the surgery

However the swelling and bruising still accompany the patient, their intensity is outstandingly lower. Patients feel tingling, numbness, tightness and slight burning in the ears and neck areas. It is perfectly normal and always happens at that time. Even if the discomfort is relatively burdensome at the beginning, it will ease off by the end of the second week, which is when patients may start doing light daily activities and nontiring exercises. Women can wear mineral make-up, but the truth is told, it could be difficult to hide bruising at this stage.

3 and 4 weeks after the surgery

Patients easily notice that the swelling lessens and the appearance of the incision areas is one step ahead comparing to the last week. The slight swelling, tightness and bruising may still be present, however, becomes hardly noticeable in the 4th week. At this stage, patients feel confident and comfortable are visible while participating in social events. If women wear makeup, no signs of facelift surgery are visible.

5 and 6 weeks after the surgery

The recovery time is declining. Patients are allowed to do all daily activities including regular exercising. The discomfort caused by swelling and bruising has disappeared and the effects of the surgery are fully visible. There are also no signs of undergone surgery. However, some patients feel minimal swelling and experience changes in the skin sensation up to one year after the surgery.

How to take care of your face after the facelift

The proper skin care after facelift surgery hastens the healing time and allows for achieving the optimal and long-lasting results. Below, the authors include eight recommendations on the effective postoperative skincare.

Cleaning face after the facelift

However patients feel tenderness and pain on the face, they should wash it to prevent building up of the bacteria and the infections. It is recommended to wash and moisturize the skin gently with gauze or soft cloth as well as a gentle antibacterial cleanser. After cleaning the face, a moisturizer should be applied. It protects the skin and reduces scarring. Regarding hair, it should be washed with soap or an antibacterial shampoo the night prior to the surgery. Sometimes, the doctor can prescribe the antibiotic ointment which needs to be applied to the nose inside for three days before the surgery (three times a day). It is crucial to know how to protect sutures after a facelift. The sutures need to be kept dry and clean. If the sutures are dissolvable, they will disappear within a week after the surgery. Non-dissolvable stitches are removed by the surgeon a week after the surgery. Regardless of the type, sutures require careful protection and hygiene.

Protecting your skin from sun rays

UV exposure is harmful and needs to be avoided as long as possible after the surgery. It is obvious that the sun cannot be avoided endlessly, hence patients need to know how to protect skin from sun rays after the facelift. The most important guidance is below:

  • the incision lines have to be hidden and covered by clothes
  • the sunscreen having SPF 30 or higher has to be applied on face, especially incision areas about 30 minutes before sun exposure
  • patients have to wear sunglasses with 100% UV protection and a hat (except a straw hat  which does not give the full protection)
  • tanning is forbidden.

Even if the recovery time is over, patients cannot forget about sun protection. The exposure to the sun stimulates aging, causes wrinkles and brown spots, as a result of which the facelift results might be dissatisfactory and short-lived. Additionally, sun exposure considerably increases the risk of skin cancer, so every person has to be careful with that and protect themselves from the sun.

Reducing swelling after facelift

Swelling causes much discomfort after the surgery. The highest intensity is between 1st and 4th week after facelift procedure, however, some patients struggle with it for a longer time. There are some effective methods of reducing the swelling that is worth mentioning. The facelift recovery tips in this regard include:

Refraining from heat

it is proved that cooling the face constricts blood vessels and fights inflammation. As a result, the swelling is suppressed and nerve endings are numbed, which reduces the pain and discomfort after the surgery. Patients should avoid overheating and indoor sun lamps.

Exposing face to chill

Applying cold compresses have a powerful influence on the patient condition. It reduces the swelling, redness, bruising, pain and brings much relief. The patients are instructed on how long and how frequent they should ice it down so that it is safe, soothing and pleasurable.

Keeping the head up

Sleeping habits become very important after facelift surgery. It is advised that patients sleep and sit with a head propped up. As a result, the pressure in the head is reduced and healing is faster.

Resting as much as possible

Patients should rest, relax and sleep in full measure especially within the first 4 weeks after the surgery. Thanks to it, the body has enough energy to heal and recover. Patients need to take it into consideration before the surgery and for instance, they should take time off work or organize care for children or pets in advance.

Wearing make-up after facelift

Women cannot wear makeup just after the surgery because they can irritate the incision areas, and as a result, cause serious infections. Also, while doing the makeup, women tend to tug on the skin and pull it, which may interfere with the healing. It is always the surgeon that allows a patient to wear makeup again. Once patients are given such consent, they may use it as a tool for improving their look which will reduce discoloration and hide bruising. The cosmeticians recommend mineral makeup as it is very gentle, yet highly effective. Patients have to remember not to overwhelm the skin, which is delicate after the procedure, with heavy makeup because it might have the reverse result. Regarding bruising, makeup providing the complete coverage would be the most effective. Some cosmetic brands have also created special products for concealing bruising, tattoos and other unwanted issues. The correcting makeup is usually worn under the regular foundation and powder.

The other important factor regarding makeup is the color. Some colors have better discoloration coverage than others. For instance, green concealers are good for red skin, yellow ones work for purple bruises, while purple concealers are effective in covering up advanced bruises which are turning yellow. As for the eye makeup, colors are also important. For example, it is advised to wear a blue or black liner as it minimizes the redness in the near area and avoids pink or red eyeshadows because they bring the redness out. The ideal solution would be asking a specialist for advice regarding makeup after facelift surgery. Then, patients would be assured that the makeup does not influence the healing and improves their look at the same time.

Reducing pain after the facelift surgery

The pain after a facelift is perfectly normal and always appear, but there are some methods of reducing it. The most frequent method of alleviating the pain are medications, the most popular of which are acetaminophen and Celebrex. The acetaminophen in a liquid form should be taken as soon as possible after the procedure. If these medications are ineffective, doctors prescribe more advanced ones, such as Vicodin, Percocet or Darvocet. These medications must not be taken on an empty stomach. The doctor also instructs a patient as for the taking times and dosages and these instructions must be followed. In addition, the application of ice is helpful and reduces swelling and pain. The compression should be put on a face for 20 minutes and the time between sessions should be at least 10 minutes. The ice should not be completely frozen but should contain some water. The best medication, however, is time, day by day, patients feel better and all the pain and discomfort is alleviating gradually.

What should I know about the recovery if I have a facelift done abroad?

The recovery after facelift does not depend on the place where it is performed. If done properly by a specialist, facelift carries the standard recovery that was discussed in this article. It is only important that patients stay near the clinic for 5 days after the surgery. It allows for an immediate reaction in case of any infections or postoperative complications. During this time, patients will have control visits. Before returning home, patients are provided with sufficient information regarding the facelift aftercare at home, which need to be followed to achieve the optimal effects. Doctors will also explain how to handle complications at home and how to read non-standard body reactions. Finally, it must be mentioned that the cooperation between Clinic Hunter and their patients is not finished when they return home. Patients remain in contact with Clinic Hunter throughout the recovery time and can always contact their doctors if anything bothers them.

Send request to the best doctors abroad

Patient Advisor

Contact us

Call us

Chat with us

Are you looking for treatment abroad?

Patient advisor